Bundesliga 2021-22 Matchday 6 – Tactical Review

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The Bundesliga continues to entertain as ever, with intriguing tactics, goals galore, and surprising results. Matchday 6 saw Leipzig get back on track with a thumping win over Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg suffer their first defeat of the season, and Dortmund look completely out of sorts in the Borussia derby. Here is our tactical analysis of some of the key matches.

greuther furth 1-3 bayern munich

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The opening game of Matchday 6 was never in doubt, even when Benjamin Pavard saw red in the second half. At that point, Bayern were already 2-0 up, and destined to win. While it was a routine win for the Bavarians, Nagelsmann made some marked changes for this match, trying out a back-three for the first time this season. Die Roten played a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Pavard and Davies as the two wing-backs. It’s probable that Nagelsmann wanted to try out his favoured formation against the supposed easiest opponents in the league, but the change paid off and could easily be seen again next week. With Davies hugging the touchline and playing wide, Leroy Sane was given freedom to float as both a right and left-sided player, constantly interchanging with Thomas Muller. Muller meanwhile operated in more attacking areas than previous matches when he was low in the build-up, and played almost like a second striker in behind Lewandowski whilst Sane drifted around.

The key, as in all previous matches, was getting Davies and Sane in close proximity to link up on the left, before delivering a chance toward the top of the box for someone else to hammer home. This is exactly how Bayern scored their opening goal when Thomas Muller made the difference, and their second too, when Joshua Kimmich found space at exactly the right moment. Greuther Furth simply could not handle Davies’ pace in behind, and without the defensive responsibilities of a left-back, he was free to get forward more often until Pavard’s red.

Greuther Furth only got going after Bayern’s red card, and otherwise looked to defend with as many players behind the ball as possible, compacting central areas. But even when defending with ten men behind the ball, someone like Kimmich was still able to drift in at the last second, find space, and strike the ball into the back of the net.

The diffusion of responsibility in Bayern’s back-three did however let Greuther Furth score a consolation goal, as Timothy Tillman rose above the rest to head it home. The Cloverleaves created well from the wide areas and from range, but even after the red card never looked fully confident in possession. For the most part, they played with a frantic, quick mindset, that only allowed Bayern to remain further in control. In the end it was an easy victory for the Bavarians, and one that sees them continue at the top of the table.

mochengladbach 1-0 dortmund

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As if things couldn’t get worse for Dortmund and their tactics, the Black & Yellows lost their two best players – Marco Reus and Erling Haaland, right before this match. Monchengladbach on the other hand came in wanting to contain the Black & Yellows and press high. Instead, they found themselves up against a toothless Dortmund team who had no desire to keep the ball. It was then Adi Hutter’s team who were able to dictate possession and play out from the back, as BVB defended in a 5-1-2-2 high to mid-block. Rose’s team never looked particularly organized in his diamond shape this season, but they looked completely out of sorts on the day in their defensively minded 5-3-2.

When they did have the ball, BVB looked for routes forward down the right flank, with Thomas Meunier and Jude Bellingham the only real chance creators on the day. Monchengladbach were organized in defense, and didn’t give Dortmund a chance to attack centrally through the likes of Moukoko and Malen, both of whom were extremely poor on the day. In truth, Rose’s team looked as though they had never played together before, whereas Adi Hutter’s team were organized, compact, and defended with heart. Sometimes Gladbach also resorted to fouling Dortmund on quick breaks, and this too was successful in stopping the Black & Yellows from gaining progress and momentum. In the end it was a routine win for Gladbach, as Dortmund slipped down to fourth.

bayer leverkusen 1-0 mainz 05

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Both Bayer Leverkusen and FSV Mainz have started the season well and both are probably in the best place they’ve been in years, under the influence of new and innovative coaches. So this was always going to be a close one. Leverkusen were the ones who had the control and the possession, as Mainz sat back and protected their goal. Mainz’s 3-5-2 was much more 5-3-2 in practice, with a compact central midfield to stop central penetration into Patrik Schick. Unfortunately for Mainz, Leverkusen have a natural inclination to play down the wings, and that is where they are most deadly. The pace and combination of play of the likes of Moussa Diaby and Jeremie Frimpong have troubled every single team so far this season, and did so again as they combined down the right flank for Bayer 04 on the day.

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Kerem Demirbay also looked for moments to get forward and join the attack in a sort of a 2-3-2-3 shape, complicating Mainz’s central compactness. The German made great progress in seeking out space in between the lines, and his role in pushing forward lessened Mainz’s ability to track the movement of Florian Wirtz. It was the young German who ended up finding the back of the net for the winner, after some excellent combination down the right from you guessed it – Jeremie Frimpong. Down the other side, Mainz didn’t have much more success in stopping Leverkusen, as Mitchel Bakker ventured forward as he pleased and looked to create shooting opportunities from range. And they didn’t just excel in finding passes in between the lines, but also in carrying the ball at speed and breaking lines through the individual skill of players like Bellarabi and Diaby.

From all of this so far, you’d probably think Seoane’s team won the game by a significant score-line. That isn’t the case, and it’s because of a lot of the positive attributes to Svensson’s Mainz in defense.

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Mainz have excelled throughout Svensson’s time in charge at pressing. While they aren’t a possession-based team, they are excellent at winning the ball back quickly and then going on the hunt for a shooting opportunity on the break. While Leverkusen had almost 70% of the ball, Mainz matched that well with 28 tackles to Bayer’s 11.

Mainz were so successful in this regard, via the diamond shapes they created. They moved and shuffled as a unit, and always looked to form a diamond quartet around the player(s) in possession. For example, Frimpong’s attempts to combine with Diaby were made more difficult, due to the presence of Boetius (LCM), Lucoqui (LWB), Kohr (DM) and St. Juste (LCB). They then had players in close proximity to combine instantly after winning the ball, where they were able to create more goal-scoring opportunities than their possession would suggest. Lukas Hradecky was called into action to save the day, and was excellent yet again. At the other end, Robin Zentner also stuck to his tasks well and kept out Leverkusen’s fruitful efforts, making this game a low-scoring affair. But it certainly wasn’t dull, and it certainly was a big one for Leverkusen as they now jump up to 2nd in the table.

more to follow


So there it is! A tactical review of Matchday 6 in the Bundesliga! Be sure to follow the social media links below, and subscribe to never miss an update. Also be sure to check out all of our tactical reviews for each and every matchday. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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